FIRM IN THE OLYMPICS CIRCLE
Of all the architects ready to bask in the global spotlight when a revamped Beijing hosts the Summer Olympics next August, most are far better known than the Sydney, Australia, firm PTW. Still, its design for the so-called Water Cube, which will hold the swimming and diving events, looks poised to hold up quite well in the glare from projects by Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas and the Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron. Developed with the engineering firm Arup, the Cube will be clad in an eye-catching arrangement of panels made of ETFE, a kind of Teflon, and based on the shape and structure of soap bubbles. Pop goes the firm’s anonymity.
MOVING PAST REM
For young architects trying to make names for themselves, moving out from the shadow of older mentors can be tough. If the shadow happens to be cast by the mighty Rem Koolhaas, it can border on the impossible. The coming year will be one of increased visibility, and autonomy, for a number of architects who studied with and worked for and alongside Koolhaas at his Rotterdam, Netherlands-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Ole Scheeren -- at 36, OMA’s youngest full partner and for the last few years its main man in China -- hopes to finally share equal billing with Koolhaas when the firm’s daring CCTV tower is finished in 2008 in Beijing. Work Architecture Co., begun by OMA alums Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, will try to build on the buzz generated by its early projects, including a whimsical branch of Anthropologie in Corona. (Andraos has said that the legacy of their work with OMA is less like a shadow than like a “tattoo.”) Joshua Prince-Ramus, an OMA partner who took most of Rem’s New York staff when he jumped ship to start REX Architecture with Erez Ella, will try to rebound from losing a plum commission at Caltech. And Qingyun Ma (pictured), whose close ties to Koolhaas helped him land the architecture deanship at USC, will continue to try to push the school back into real competition with the architecture school at UCLA.
HODGETTS + FUNG DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE
FIRM THAT’S ALL OVER THE PLACE
One of the best-established firms in Los Angeles, founded by Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung in 1984, edges back into the spotlight. Early next year will come the official opening of the architects’ ImaginAsian Center on Main Street downtown; they have turned the site of the Linda Lea Theatre into a sleek setting for Asian art-house cinema. Later in the year, the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, will include the pair’s exhibition design. Another Bay Area project ready for its debut: the firm’s much-praised performing arts center for Menlo-Atherton High School.